Keep Your Ears Bent: Compilations


MAKING (+ Breaking) SOUND BARRIERS + TAKING NAMES!: Compilations are often a dime a dozen, ordinarily they are showcases for a label, and unless the material is exclusive to it, are a bit of a hard sell in general. Though, I always give them a spin, for context, for the hopeful discovery of hidden gems. It’s often difficult to define a fleshed out concept exclusively by way of a producer, rather than through the voice of an artist – but it’s also interesting to see how refined a boutique label imprint may curate their roster, so to speak. That said, I make it a standard ritual not to review compilations, however, some are just too darn intriguing to ignore. So I have some cream of the crop which has risen to the top in the past several months that will spin your cylinders to your heart’s content. These range from spooky dark atmospherics to glittering quasi dance techno. Here’s a half dozen new comps that make or excel the grade.


Transcendigitalism from Silent is a collection of ten tracks, esoteric tones as it were. The disc was put out late last year and made available at a few sparkling events that incorporate trance-inducing a/v experiences, and the overall sound here is heady and elusive – but in the good sense.


Included are artists like: Michael Northam, Deeper Than Space and a handful of other ambient practitioners who sculpt sound described as: “a collection of drone-based works conceived and recorded in altered states of consciousness.”


Siamese Anthology II is a sequel that is even better than its predecessor, especially if you love smart dance beats (do the kids still call this IDM?). From the Zürich-based imprint of the same name, Siamese is on to something out of the ordinary thump and bump fare, mostly explored ala Europe. Adriatique‘s Grinding Rhythm is my introduction to this talented producer/DJ and it’s clicky, upbeat and pretty infectious. Also notable on this quintet of tracks is Marino Canal‘s incredibly stylish and understated Men Of No Purpose. Have a listen for yourself….


Next up is LVII XXXVII from the Fuzzy Panda Recording Company. Prepare for some playful spacey electronics. There’s an awe-inspiring track on this by Small Craft that I may have not been privy to otherwise, alongside a bevy of similar sound benders like Arthur Loves Plastic (Bev Stanton), BLK TAG and house favorite, j. surak –  this is a really sweet set.


Eighth Tower Records has just released the new collection, Polar Shadows. A handful of powerfully atmospheric soundworks slowly emanate from this highly developed record, with tracks from: A Bleeding Star, Experiment#508, Weeping Glass and Sun Through Eyelids whose track Ascetic Imprint is inebriatingly haunting. It lingers in quietude and slow motion like a snow globe in fog. Throughout these ten tracks there is a cautionary post-apocalyptic tale told in short ambient vignettes. It’s gorgeous.


New Modernism comes from the Italian Unexplained Sounds Group. This various artists comp tests out some new waters, however, is led by the always mesmerizing David Lee Myers in his Arcane Device guise. The warble and bent of spectre extremis has a flush character that is from out of space. Of all the comps mentioned herein this is likely the most broad and far-reaching in terms of experimental styles. I’m excited to hear the literal monkeying around with a side of polka on Stephono-ZIP‘s Orango tango. Also here are exceptional sound artworks from Dariusz JackowskiGiovanni Verga and Sonologyst (whose Silencers was recently reviewed here).


Lastly but certainly not leastly is the epic two-disc, twenty-four track nod to Karl Marx’s 200th. The set expected to be released on June 8 from Germany’s Karlrecords is a cavalcade of familiar talent including: Aidan Baker, Frank Bretschneider, AGF, Schneider TM, Nicolas Wiese (who has his own solo release coming soon that we will be covering), Caspar Brötzmann, Philippe Petit, Reinhold Friedl and many others. Expect the unexpected on this eclectic mix of minimal electronics, squeaky + wiggly real time (in-situ) situations, playful voice samples and endless uneasy listening. “28 artists express their upset with the current state of society”. What’s behind door number two…..


Music, not bombs. No crap, that’s a wrap!

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